Former prisoner of conscience José Daniel Ferrer García told Amnesty International how he had been arrested in Havana on 21 February and held in police custody. He was transferred to a detention facility in the province of Camagüey the following day, and then to the province of Santiago de Cuba on 23 February before being released without charge on 24 February. While detained, he was threatened with imprisonment if he continued his dissident activities as coordinator of the umbrella group of dissident organizations, Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica de Cuba, UNPACU).
The second anniversary of the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo was on 23 February. He was a Cuban prisoner of conscience who died in 2010 after many days on hunger strike. There was widespread harassment and arbitrary detention of dissidents, including the women activists of Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), many of whom were prevented on 23 February from entering the organization’s headquarters in downtown Havana for an event to commemorate the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo.
García sent the following message from his Twitter account just after his release: “They released me. I was violently detained. Three days on hunger strike. If they don’t free those who are still detained, I will continue the hunger strike.” (Me acaban de liberar. Fui detenido violentamente. Tres días en huelga de hambre. Si no liberan a los que quedan detenidos, sigo en huelga).
José Daniel Ferrer García stopped his hunger strike only after the release of the other UNPACU activists was announced. Dozens of them had been arrested during the week.
Amnesty International will continue to monitor closely the situation of José Daniel Ferrer García and other UNPACU members and will take further action as appropriate.